SSH firm aims to untangle crypto key hairball

Fo' SHHizzle


Infosec 2012 Secure Shell (SSH) certificate management – a key internet protocol used for remote access and file transfer for nearly 20 years now – can become quite a tangled issue if there isn't a clear management policy in place, and SSH Communications Security, one of the security exhibitors at Infosec, claims it has a solution.

SSH is often used for remote access and file transfer in countless organisations. The tech has been around since 1995 and has become a ubiquitous component in network systems in the 17 years since then. The protocol is used for the secure transfer of product and price lists, banking data and other classes of information. Often the technology comes bundled as a component of other software tools.

Typically organisations create a new key pair for every new application, authorised users and automated service account. Over time this has left organisations with sometimes hundreds of thousands of SSH key ‘pairs' but without a clear idea what they are used for or on which system. Key pairs ought to be updated at least every two years but there is easy way to do this and organisations are wary of retiring keys in case the process breaks the legacy system. Applications, user and service accounts each have public and private key pairs to communicate securely with target SSH servers.

SSH Communications Security is punting a management platform to help combat this.

“Enterprises' most critical data and applications are often transported and housed on SSH and OpenSSH servers," said Tatu Ylönen, chief exec of SSH Communications Security and inventor of SSH-1. "Those enterprises using public key authentication to manage access to those servers are faced with a significant challenge today in terms of knowing who and what may access those servers. This is not only a major security and compliance risk, however it is also a cost issue. Many organisations manage this function manually with little or no oversight.”

Enterprises sometimes approve access to key pairs through permissions in Active Directory, but that wouldn't stop a rogue employee who had access to key pairs at any time from abusing unrevoked access to key systems to cause damage. In addition, PCI-DSS auditors are beginning to take a closer interest in how firms manage their SSH key infrastructure, according to Ylönen. "As the scale of SSH deployment grows you get more problems because organisation have no visibility into who has access to what," Ylönen added. "Organisations might install thousands of new key pairs every year. More than half of their SSH keys would still be in use but organisations often don't know which they are."

SSH Communications Security is aiming to untangle this crypto key hairball through a User Key Management Tool. The module, which bolts into SSH's Information Integrity Platform, automates the process of identifying, organising and recycling SSH keys within a user's environment. It was launched at the RSA Conference in San Francisco back in February. It has gone though a number of trails since prior to its European showcase debut at this week's Infosecurity Europe Conference.

The key management tool comes as either software, a virtual appliance or a hardware appliance. All three form factors of the technology are capable of handling both SSH and OpenSSH keys. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Snowflake stock drops as some top customers cut usage
    You might say its valuation is melting away

    IPO darling Snowflake's share price took a beating in an already bearish market for tech stocks after filing weaker than expected financial guidance amid a slowdown in orders from some of its largest customers.

    For its first quarter of fiscal 2023, ended April 30, Snowflake's revenue grew 85 percent year-on-year to $422.4 million. The company made an operating loss of $188.8 million, albeit down from $205.6 million a year ago.

    Although surpassing revenue expectations, the cloud-based data warehousing business saw its valuation tumble 16 percent in extended trading on Wednesday. Its stock price dived from $133 apiece to $117 in after-hours trading, and today is cruising back at $127. That stumble arrived amid a general tech stock sell-off some observers said was overdue.

    Continue reading
  • Amazon investors nuke proposed ethics overhaul and say yes to $212m CEO pay
    Workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability and, um, wage 'fairness' all struck down in vote

    Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's first shareholder meeting was a rousing success for Amazon leadership and Jassy's bank account. But for activist investors intent on making Amazon more open and transparent, it was nothing short of a disaster.

    While actual voting results haven't been released yet, Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky told Reuters that stock owners voted down fifteen shareholder resolutions addressing topics including workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability, and pay fairness. Amazon's board recommended voting no on all of the proposals.

    Jassy and the board scored additional victories in the form of shareholder approval for board appointments, executive compensation and a 20-for-1 stock split. Jassy's executive compensation package, which is tied to Amazon stock price and mostly delivered as stock awards over a multi-year period, was $212 million in 2021. 

    Continue reading
  • Confirmed: Broadcom, VMware agree to $61b merger
    Unless anyone out there can make a better offer. Oh, Elon?

    Broadcom has confirmed it intends to acquire VMware in a deal that looks set to be worth $61 billion, if it goes ahead: the agreement provides for a “go-shop” provision under which the virtualization giant may solicit alternative offers.

    Rumors of the proposed merger emerged earlier this week, amid much speculation, but neither of the companies was prepared to comment on the deal before today, when it was disclosed that the boards of directors of both organizations have unanimously approved the agreement.

    Michael Dell and Silver Lake investors, which own just over half of the outstanding shares in VMware between both, have apparently signed support agreements to vote in favor of the transaction, so long as the VMware board continues to recommend the proposed transaction with chip designer Broadcom.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022